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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sweet Dreams: 5-Minute Bedtime Stories. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2014. $16.99 ages 2 and up

"This is the way bedtime is
SUPPOSED to be. But some
nights it is not. Some nights I
have bad dreams and my sister
has to save me.

Because sometimes when NIGHT
comes, my dreams

My bed is in the middle of the ocean!"

It's scary for me to think that parents have 'no time' to read to their children at night. What can they possibly have left to do that they can't take the time to cuddle up, snuggle in and read a story to those amazing children they brought into this world. Imagine the peace and contentment both would feel as sleep settles in, and their time together with a book ends that young child's day!

That being said, I do not often pay much attention to a book title that pronounces it is filled with stories that can be read in 'five minutes'. We don't have more than five minutes to spend reading with our kids, showing them how important reading and literacy are to the most special people in their lives? Of course, we do...unless we have fallen into that trap that allows us to think we are always too busy.

Luckily, I set aside the tendency to ignore such a book. When I opened the cover and discovered the ten stories that had been collected for bedtime reading, I was delighted to see some familiar favorite titles and that encouraged me to read on and make new discoveries!

We all know Curious George and the man with the yellow hat; thankfully, George finally succumbs to dreams of the sweet kind in Sweet Dreams, Curious George by Margret and H.A. Rey. You may not know the young boy who finds reading hard, and refuses to read the book no matter what danger might befall him in Cece Meng's I Will Not Read This Book. I know you will be happy to meet both   him and his mom. Lucy learns a lesson about how difficult it can be to put a monster to sleep, even one of your own creative imagination in Go To Bed, Monster by Natasha Wing. Joanne Ryder's lilting tale of hugs from morning to night ensures sleepy time contentment in Won't You Be My Hugaroo?  I can't think of a better way to spend the day and early evening than sharing hugs with those you love! Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime by Myra Wolfe introduces a young girl with plenty of swashbuckling oomph until a night without sleep (which she sees as the ultimate pleasure) makes scarce that joie de vivre and leaves her in a pickle.

 In Margot Apple's Blanket, Mom makes the decision that Blanket must be washed. The young narrator is lost and lonely without it. Luckily, her animal friends and the wind rectify the situation. Alice Schertle's Very Hairy Bear uses gorgeous language to take us through the seasons with a bear who has no concern for his 'no-hair nose' until it's time for a long winter's sleep. In The Dream Jar by Lindan Lee Johnson, one sister helps the other learn about changing bad dreams into good ones with imagination, and sometimes with the help of a dream jar. Kerry Arquette takes us on a trip around the animal world to discover, in rhyming text, what each has been doing in her story called What Did You Do Today? She ends with a small child thinking back on his day's doings, too.

The collection ends with Don and Audrey Wood's witty and lavishly illustrated Piggies. It's a perfect way to end a book about bedtimes and glorious stories to share at the end of a long day:

"Sometimes they're
good little piggies,
but not at bedtime.
That's when they skip down
my tummy,
dance on my toes,
then run away and hide.
I put them all together, all in a row,
for two fat kisses,
two smart kisses,
two long kisses,
two silly kisses
and two kisses goodnight."


To think I might have missed it! In back matter, information is included about each of the authors and illustrators and a bibliography of the books shared in this thoughtful collection.

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